The UK heatwave is expected to reach 30+ degrees this week leaving many people vulnerable to passing out, vomiting and heatstroke.
Elderly people may be at risk of heatstroke but nurses working in hot conditions must make efforts to stay hydrated in overheated work environments according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
The law requires that all employees, patients and relatives must have easy access to water.
‘Nursing staff should not be expected to work 12-hour-shifts in stifling heat with no access to water. Not only is this extremely uncomfortable, it is dangerous, both for them, and the patients they care for,’ said Anna Crossley, profession lead for acute, emergency and critical care for the RCN.
‘Dehydration also affects cognition, which could lead to mistakes. Hospital management should allow water bottles on shift so staff can stay hydrated and make sure they have breaks. This is an issue of patient safety.’
Dehydration in hospitals is a health risk, say the RCN, and can lead to serious conditions, including urinary tract infections and acute kidney injuries.
According to the RCN, many nurses have reported being unable to stay properly hydrated as some hospitals do not allow water bottles in come clinical areas and with wards understaffed, there is no time to take a break.
This is an issue across the UK in various practices as many public buildings in the UK not fitted with air conditioning – however, the government has published building design guidance to mitigate the effects of climate change on public buildings.
A temperature of 33.3 degrees was recorded in Santon Downham in Suffolk on Monday which was the hottest day of the year so far and an amber weather warning has been issued for some parts of England.